Bernie Ebbers, brains behind historic fraud scheme, to be freed from prison

Former WorldCom CEO is blind, has dementia, family says

The brains behind one of America’s biggest accounting frauds is receiving an early release from his 25-year prison sentence.

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Bernie Ebbers, the former CEO of WorldCom, is being released because family members say he is suffering from dementia and is legally blind. Federal prosecutors in a recent court filing said the 78-year-old former telecom executive was faking illness to gain the release.

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Ebbers has served 13 years of his sentence.

Worldcom was a veritable household name in 2001 as one of the world's largest telecommunication companies. A popular portfolio stock, Worldcom made moves to falsely inflate its earnings on its profit and loss statement by nearly $4 billion.

Under Ebbers, the company spread out expenses in smaller amounts over several years instead of reporting them immediately to investors. As a result, in 2001, the company reported a mind-boggling $1.4 billion profit. Had the operating costs been correctly reported, Worldcom would have lost money for fiscal 2001 as well as first-quarter 2002.

Ebbers has been serving his time in a federal prison in Fort Worth, Texas.

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